Famous Irish Cricketers: Barry Archer
Barry John Archer
Barry Archer might be described as a truly all round cricketer. A forcing left hand batsman, usually to be seen at the top of the order, he is also, when needed, a very useful medium pace bowler - good enough to fill that role for Ireland - and having been an occasional wicket keeper in his years with The Hills, now wears the gauntlets with distinction for Balbriggan.
Like many other Fingal cricketers he had strong family associations with the game when he began in senior cricket for The Hills in 1993, a career which was to last until 2008, bringing him 6069 runs at 27.59 with two 100s and thirty four 50s.
In his early years with the Skerries side, however he was more prominent in schools and youth cricket. Thus in 1994, in a U19 tournament at Oxford involving several English county youth sides, he made a fine century for Leinster against Derbyshire.
The following season, he played for Irish Schools against Wales in College Park and also for Ireland U21 against Irish Universities at the same venue but with little success.
However he was one of the leading members of the De La Salle side that carried off the Leinster Schools League title, for the first time, in 1995, beating Belvedere College by 7 wickets in the Final.
Belvedere had been bowled out for a meagre 73 but any chance of a De La Salle collapse was dispelled by Barry and another future Milverton stalwart Joseph Clinton, who saw their side to safety with comparative ease. As shown above Barry was a consistent run getter for The Hills for more than a decade.
It is perhaps invidious to single out one particular meritorious performance above any other, but a glance at his contribution to the club's capture of the Leinster Senior Cup in 1996 more than shows his worth to his side. In the second round against CYM at Terenure the Skerries men amassed 384-3 off their 60 overs, Opener and captain Bryn Thomas powering his way to 133 before Barry, at 4 weighed in with a dominant 106* at No 4.
Facing Rush at Milverton in the semi final, the two left handers were again prominent, putting on 93 for the second wicket, Barry making 40 as The Hills got home by 3 wickets.
He was less impressive with the bat in the final against North County, being dismissed for 17 but had already made his mark with the ball taking 4-62 including the crucial wicket of Conor Armstrong, bowled for 96, and another one key one in that of Paul Mooney.
In 2009 Barry signed for Balbriggan and immediately made a considerable impact on the Division 3 sides' batting. Making a quick fire 68, with eleven 4s and one 6 in his first match, he aggregated 513 at 42.75 in the season, besides keeping wicket full time and, bringing with him to the club the semi retired Gavin Morgan - whose brother can also bat a bit - which further strengthened the batting line up.
By the end of 2011 Barry had scored over 1600 runs for Balbriggan with 694 runs at an average of 57 last (2011) season his best. His highest score, also made last summer, stands at 126. This was made against Oak Hill in a League match which resulted in a controversial 5 wicket win for Balbriggan who appeared at first to have lost by one run, only for the umpires to decide that the Wicklow side had not bowled their overs within the allocated time .
Another tight match came against Clontarf 2nd XI when Barry scored a slightly more subdued than usual 107 - it took him 136 balls! - but the Castle Avenue side won by 3 wickets, despite Barry taking 3 catches. An innings to remember came against Leinster 2nds when his 75 came at a run a ball - his season's scoring rate - including five 4s and six 6s.
Barry was not always seen at his best in interprovincial cricket though he suffered from playing at a time when the competition underwent several changes of format and from the fact that he was not always given the chance to display his batting skills to their best advantage.
Though he had shown his potential for the Development XI in 1996 and had two good innings for Leinster in 1999 with 45 against North West at Malahide when he and Peter Davy put on 113 for the 3rd wicket and an undefeated 39 against Munster, his best season was, arguably, 2004 the last year in which the tournament has - at the time of writing - been held.
Figures of 3-45 helped secure a win for North Leinster against the NCU XI while a useful 49, second highest score to Jeremy Bray's 101 helped set up victory at Castle Avenue in the first of two matches with North West.
However his best game, also against North West, this time at Limavady, saw him turn in a match winning innings after a useful bowling performance. He took 2-26 with his medium pace to help restrict the hosts to a moderate 170.
However this total seemed more than enough when the openers fell cheaply, Bray for 1 and Pat Byrne for 0. Barry, aided by fellow Fingal man John Mooney, came to the rescue. They put on 144 for the 3rd wicket before Mooney was out. A few lusty blows from Trent Johnston put the matter beyond doubt but North Leinster, winners by 7 wickets, owed much to Barry, undefeated on 76. They carried off the title, a success in which he had played no small part.
Barry's 22 matches for Ireland, over the 1999 and 2000 seasons brought him 434 runs at 18.57 and 8 wickets at 28.66. HIs debut came in the Triple Crown match against Scotland at Castle Avenue in late June. He was personally successful but Ireland lost by 2 wickets.
Ireland were in trouble on 68-4 when he joined Angus Dunlop. They righted the ship taking the score to 164 before Barry was caught from the off spin of George Maiden for a well made 39. However the eventual total of 230 was not enough.
He also contributed well with the bat in the two other matches top scoring with 36 against Wales and being joint top scorer against England, he and Davy both reaching 20. However support was inadequate as Ireland crashed to a whitewash.
Barry's form continued throughout the season, it not being until the final match, the first class fixture with the Scots at Ormeau, that he was dismissed for single figures when the former Worcestershire paceman, Scottish born but Australian raised James Brinkley, had him for 2. As the opposition otherwise included four ODIs and one first class game with the South African Academy as well as the MCC at Lord's, Barry's performances were no mean feat.
His best innings came in the final ODI in a series squaring 5 wicket win at Eglinton. The visitors posted a formidable looking 258-5 and when Barry, opening saw his partner Jason Molins go for 0, the writing seemed on the wall. However Barry (67) and Davy who fell three short of a well deserved hundred, added 184 for the second wicket before Barry was caught off paceman Murray Creed.
Jonty Rhodes, no doubt pleased to succeed against his younger countrymen, made sure there were no mishaps. Barry finished the season with 322 runs at 24.67. Only Dunlop and Davy scored more.
However if 1999 had been a season of plenty 2000 was to prove the reverse. He struggled to find his international form all season from the unfamiliar conditions in the Emerging Nations series in Zimbabwe onwards. In 11 matches he played 10 innings for 112 runs at 11.20. By contrast Peter Gillespie, with exactly the same number of appearances and innings, hit 274 runs at 27.25.
Just over half of Barry's runs came in two innings. Against the England Amateur XI at Titwood, Glasgow in the European Championships, Ireland needing a manageable 214 to win were 85-4 when Barry joined Gillespie after Ed Joyce was run out for 5. They took the score to 141 before being separated. Thereafter the innings folded and Ireland totalled 179. Peter went the same way as Joyce and Barry fell to paceman John Carruthers.
Five days later against Scotland, in a rain affected match which was lost by 5 wickets, Barry with 27 was one of several Irish batsmen to get a start but not to go on to play the needed big innings. Top scores in the189 all out was Kyle McCallan with 39.
Barry John Archer did not play for Ireland again after the 2000 season. As we have seen he has continued to shine at club level and it could argued that he was discarded too soon.
Be that as it may followers of Balbriggan must be grateful that they can look forward to another season enjoying his prolific batting which, last season brought him no fewer than eighty one 4s and twenty one 6s.
Edward Liddle, January 2012